This is a glossary of terms frequently used in discussions about PBLA, including discussions about ESL curriculum planning, teaching and learning English, and assessment.
Feedback that provides students with a way forward to close the gap between current and desired performance. Action-oriented feedback focuses on what students are doing that they should continue to do, what they need to do more of, what they might consider doing, and what they should stop doing.
A spoken or written use of language that uses figurative, descriptive, or poetic language for playful or imaginative purposes
Criteria related to appropriateness, sufficiency, and accuracy of specific factors related to communication, such as grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary
The process of collecting information about student learning. Throughout the learning process, assessment is used to inform teaching and student learning. As a result of assessment, teachers can adjust their teaching. Students also benefit from assessment. They need to receive a considerable amount of descriptive feedback to enable them to continue or adjust what they are doing to be effective learners.
Assessment for Learning (AfL) Strategies
Five key strategies that are particularly effective in promoting learning in the classroom
A task that is designed to assess learning, is aligned to specific CLB performance conditions and competencies, has predetermined criteria for success, and is administered under consistent, test-like conditions
Learning activities intended to engage students in a topic, determine what they already know, and focus their attention on specific features of a task or text
Computer Assisted Language Learning) Any process in which a learner uses a computer, i.e. computer, network, peripheral devices, PDAs, MP3 players, mobile phones, SMART Boards, etc. and, as a result, improves his or her language
Assessment in which teachers plan for and implement their own assessment instruments and procedures to monitor and evaluate student progress in their classrooms. Also referred to as “teacher-based assessment” or “authentic assessment.”
A series of language tasks carried out to accomplish a particular social purpose: for example, getting a medical check-up comprises many tasks – locating a doctor’s phone number, calling to book the appointment, announcing one’s arrival, filling in a health history, and so on. Also called a “language event.”
The ability to communicate or understand messages effectively and appropriately in specific social situations.
The social situation in which a message occurs, such as workplace, library, school medical clinic, or store. Each context has different expectations and conventions, which inform communication choices.
Indicators of successful performance by which an assessment task will be judged. Also called “performance criteria.”
A list of CLB-aligned criteria by which a task will be assessed
Assessment based on specified criteria
An outline of instructional goals, principles, standards, approach to instructional practice, needs assessment, learning objectives (intended outcomes), assessment tasks, learning activities, resources, and materials
A piece of spoken language. Discourse may consist of one word (e.g., “Careful!”) or may be of considerable length. Also referred to as “text.”
ESL Literacy Learners
Adult immigrants who need to learn English, and are not functionally literate in their L1.
Spoken or written language whose intention is to set forth or explain
The process of reviewing collected evidence and making a judgment about whether students have learned what they need to learn and how well they have learned it. Evaluation is used to tell students how well they have performed as compared to a set of standards. Typically, evaluative feedback is encoded: that is, it is reported using numbers, letters, checkmarks, and so on.
Information that results from formal or informal assessment and that is used by teachers and students to enhance teaching and learning
The ongoing collection of information and feedback about the effectiveness of teaching and learning activities in order to inform or modify instruction
Knowledge of language functions or speech acts
A socially recognized, staged, goal-oriented way of using language: for example, a report, lecture, or letter. A genre typically has common features, text-structure, or moves.
Global Performance Descriptors
In Canadian Language Benchmarks 2000, a brief account of a student’s general language ability in ESL: that is, the typical characteristics of a student’s language at a particular level. In the revised CLB, these characteristics are described under the Profile of Ability, in the section ‘demonstrating these strengths and limitations’.
A personal learning intent achievable within a specific time frame
Criteria related to overall effectiveness of communication
The level of agreement attained between independent raters of student performance, often expressed as a percentage of agreement or as a correlation between the scores of two raters on the same group of students
A person actively engaged in a conversation. Also called an “interactant.”
A person’s first language or mother tongue
A person’s second or additional language
The communicative real-world use of language to accomplish a specific purpose (language function) in a specific social situation
An activity designed by the teacher to raise awareness, build or practise skills, use skills to negotiate meaning in a simulation of a real-world task, or transfer skills and knowledge to a new situation. Also referred to as a “learning task.”
A metacognitive strategy employed by a student to monitor and reflect on the process of learning. It may include reflection on what was learned, what was easy or difficult, what helped learning, what hindered learning, or next steps.
A description or outline of the series of learning activities and procedures a teacher uses to achieve learning objectives. It often also identifies the materials and resources that will be used.
Knowledge at the sentence level of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation (including rhythm, stress, and intonation) or, in written text, graphology and orthography. Also known as “grammatical knowledge.”
The process of ensuring consistency of assessment among teachers, aligned to a specific standard. Also referred to as “calibrate.”
A description or outline of the content, skills and strategies that will be the focus of instruction in a unit or series of lessons. Focuses on what will be taught.
An investigation to determine the needs, interests, learning styles, circumstances, and goals of the learner
An assessment designed to measure and compare individual students’ performances or test results to those of an appropriate peer group (that is, a norm group) at the classroom, local, or national level. Students with the best performance on a given assessment receive the highest grades.
The result of an intervention, program, or instruction
Assessment of the results of instruction
Feedback on a task from a peer or classmate that is aligned to specific criteria
The specific conditions that establish the purpose of communication: setting/place, audience, topic, time constraints, length of task, supports allowed, and so on.
Indicators of successful performance by which an assessment task will be judged
Spoken or written language intended to persuade or convince
A low-stakes assessment to get a snapshot of a person’s general language proficiency in order to place him or her in the appropriate language class
A collection of samples of tasks or products
The ability to use appropriate language in a given communicative situation. It comprises functional, paralinguistic (gestures, eye contact, interpersonal space, etc.), and sociolinguistic knowledge.
A set of categories (e.g., Not at all, Somewhat, Often, Always) designed to elicit information about a quantitative or a qualitative attribute. In the social sciences, common examples are the Likert scale and the 1 to 10 scale, in which a person selects the number that is considered to reflect the perceived quality of something.
Refers to real materials: that is, materials not made specifically for ESL students, such as library card forms, prescription labels, school notices, hydro bills, flyers, catalogues, recipes, and traffic signs
The degree to which an assessment yields consistent results
A specific application of a genre: for example, a report is a genre; a weather report is a register
A fixed scale with specific performance characteristics arranged in levels (0-3 correct, 4-7 correct, 8-11 correct, etc.) that describe each score in a range for a particular outcome
An assessment tool that involves marking on a continuum. Each of two end points is assigned a meaning, and performance is rated in relation to the extremes.
Checking one’s own performance: that is, what one can do and how well one’s abilities align with a specific standard or set of criteria
Learning activities focused on developing accuracy of form and use of a specific, discrete aspect of language use
Learning activities focused on developing fluency and negotiating meaning in simulated or actual real-world tasks
Goals that are specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and time-bound
The context in which communication occurs, such as workplace, library, medical clinic, or school. The expectations and conventions of a particular social situation inform communication choices.
Knowledge of the relationship between language use and society. It encompasses knowledge of how situational variables such as the relationship or status of speakers impacts communication. It includes pragmatic knowledge.
An utterance that serves a function in communication, such as an apology, a greeting, or a request. A speech act may be one word or may require a series of “moves,” or smaller units of discourse.
A test that has been developed from tryouts and experiments to ensure that it is reliable and valid and that is administered under uniform procedures
The ability to use effective strategies to manage the selection, integration, and application of various aspects of language to understand or communicate a message in a specific context. It includes compensatory, repair, and enhancement strategies.
Information and feedback collected at the end of a learning unit or program to document progress and achievement of communicative proficiency
The breakdown of a task into discrete steps and texts. Also referred to as a “communication event analysis.”
Instruction focused on the language tasks that students need to carry out in specific social situations or settings
Assessment in which teachers plan for and implement their own assessment instruments and procedures to monitor and evaluate student progress in their classrooms. Often called “classroom-based assessment” or “authentic assessment.”
A piece of spoken or written language. A text may consist of one word (e.g., “DANGER!”) or may be of considerable length.
A systematic breakdown of the various aspects of communicative competence in a written or oral text
The category to which a text belongs depending on its purpose: to inform, persuade, describe, and so on. Whole or parts of texts with specific features – such as patterns of language, structure, or vocabulary – that help to achieve the purpose may belong to the same text type.
The method used by the author or speaker to organize text, such as sequencing, compare and contrast, cause and effect, or problem and solution
Knowledge of genre and text-type features, including coherence and cohesive devices for building longer or extended discourse or texts. Also known as “discourse knowledge.”
The administration of exit or standardized tests developed by outside “experts” at the end of a term or course for evaluation purposes
The carrying over of learned behaviour from one situation to another
What is said by one person before or after another has spoken. An utterance may be one word, one sentence, or many sentences.
The adequacy of an assessment in measuring the curriculum and the objectives it represents
Willingness to Communicate (WTC)
The probability that one will choose to initiate communication, given the opportunity to do so